With its cute and lovely look, the red squirrel is probably one of the most photogenic animals around. I personally just love to watch and photograph them because of their wonderful character. Sometimes I even rather would like to watch them with my own eyes than through my camera, because they are so funny to watch, so I sometimes turn off the camera to enjoy watching them jumping around, fighting or eating. Over the years I have paid a lot of attention to the behavior of the red squirrels and spent many hours sitting in my hide to study and photograph them. So let me give you some essential tip before going into the woods.
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When you are about to photograph red squirrels the best time is in the morning, that’s when they are most active and furthermore, in the morning you will have a great soft light.
In winter when the red squirrels grow their winter coat and their ear tufts they are probably most photogenic, the bushy tail has hairs that can be up to 4 inches long.
The long furry tail of a squirrel actually has a purpose: it helps to maintain the balance of their body while they jump, to communicate with other squirrels and to protect itself from the rain or snow.
Fall is probably the best time to photograph them, because in October they start to collect food in order to prepare for winter, so build a feeding box and offer some nuts.
In spring you also have good chances to photograph them, because that’s the time when they start to collect nesting material for the upcoming breeding season.
I wouldn’t try squirrel photography during summer because around that time they are busy caring for their youngsters and furthermore high temperatures reduce their activity, so also in summer, the squirrels are most active during early morning and late afternoon when the temperatures are lower.
The easiest way to attract red squirrels is to place a feeding station on a tree in the forest. Red squirrels are crazy about nuts such as hazelnuts, hickory nuts or walnuts, but they also love to eat sunflower seeds. Don’t give them peanuts or almonds, they are really unhealthy for them and can be a serious risk for them. So be aware which snack you give them.
It’s actually really easy to build a red squirrel feeding box, there are many tutorials on the internet, or just go to the next pet store and ask for a squirrel feeding station. You can also order a feeding box on Amazon. So search for a forest where you can find squirrels, hang your feeding station up on a tree, fill it with food and wait for some weeks till they find your feeding station. You will be surprised, the squirrels will love the feeding station and they will visit it every day. Be sure to clean the feeding station every now and then.
Squirrels need water every day. So besides a feeding station, you also can build a drinking station. Provide a source of fresh and clean water in a bowl. Water will especially attract them in summer when the temperatures are high. Furthermore, if you try to photograph them while they are drinking you will get really nice reflection shots of them and you will see the squirrels will always be around the pool to satisfy their thirst. It’s like a win-win situation, on the one hand, you help the squirrels to quench their thirst and on the other hand, you will have unique shots from the squirrels with their reflection in the water.
Squirrels are very acrobatic fellows, they can easily jump up to 3 meters between objects and vertically they can jump up to 1.5 meters. If you want to try to catch them in flight I would recommend building up a small parkour, where the squirrels can jump from branch to branch to get nuts and sunflower seeds. In fall they are collecting food and also burying nuts in the ground for the winter, so they will visit your feeding box every day. Red squirrels are very quick and it’s important that there is enough light to freeze the squirrel with a fast shutter-speed, so make sure you use the right camera settings.
I hope you enjoyed this guide, see you next time!